The woman of substance who remains an enigma

The airbrushed image of Cherie Booth masks an extraordinary personality , writes Suzanne Moore

Sweet lullaby of death

CLASSICAL ECO / Harry Christophers Barbican Centre, London

CLASSICAL MUSIC: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment; QEH, London

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, that echt-period band, were found straying wildly off their patch in Tuesday night's concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. A programme of French music, dating from the second half of the 19th century? That spells chutzpah. But how they appeared to enjoy it! Like naughty children caught out of school, they relished tackling repertoire far from their "normal" arena. Too bad that their intended conductor, Paavo Jarvi, was struck low because he, too, must have been expecting a romp in unfamiliar territory. As it was, a safe pair of hands, in the shape of John Lubbock, rescued the entire programme as announced.

Arts: Don't talk to me about the Sixties

Courted by Dylan and Dali, Francoise Hardy was the essence of Sixties chic until she retreated from fame. Now she is courted by Damon from Blur and, after eight years' silence, has a new album. Philip Sweeney meets a French national treasure

Grappelli unwell

Grappelli unwell

Now look here: Mick Harvey is Serge Gainsbourg

Serge Gainsbourg's predecessor as the bad boy of chanson, Jacques Brel, has been widely (and often wildly) translated, finding his way into most record collections via David Bowie, Scott Walker, Alex Harvey or Marc Almond. But Serge himself has never really crossed the channel.

How much do you know about Camille?

Take cover. The American feminist the world loves to hate has a new book out. Here's your chance to get to grips with the vital subject of la Paglia the ego

LETTER: Secret of Bardot's beauty revealed

From Mr Ian Baglee

The silent types: Le Cirque Invisible never do interviews. Here they grant an audience, but not an interview, to Emily Green

Le Cirque Invisible is every publicist's nightmare. The founders of the tiny family circus, Jean-Baptiste Thierree and Victoria Chaplin, have been invited for a month-long run to mark the re-opening this week of Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, west London. But in two decades of performing, Thierree and Chaplin have always refused to give interviews. Until they accepted my invitation to cook them dinner.

Where shall we meet?: The French House, Dean St

When you think of Soho, one of the first things to spring to mind, aside from tarts and tramps, is old drunk men of putative intellectual standing surrounded by young women who haven't yet discovered that buying the old gents drinks won't further their literary ambitions. The French House, a cramped pub with about 10 seats, is part of the epicentre of that cultural life. Even in winter, you can find people hunched on the pavement outside its tobacco-tinged efflorescence, watching the world go by and soaking up an atmosphere that hasn't changed much since Soho club hostess Ruth Ellis died. The restaurant upstairs is a bit gentler on the uninitiated.

Travel: French radio

ARE THERE any French radio stations worth seeking out on the car radio, asked Anne and Les Goodwin of Fife (Independent Traveller, 23 April), who are planning a driving holiday in France this summer.

CLASSICAL MUSIC / The king of the jungle: After Gorecki, Charles Koechlin? Michael White on French music's missing link

YOU MAY remember Gorecki's 3rd Symphony; and if you haven't recycled the CD into a teapot-stand by now you may also know that David Zinman is the man to thank for it - because Zinman is the American conductor who took the piece into the recording studio and turned its obscure Polish composer into a household name. The rest, as they say, is history.

MUSIC / Of old and new: Robert Maycock on the Docklands Sinfonietta at the Queen Elizabeth Hall

It looked like a dream concert - sensuous Polish songs surrounded by easy-going French music and some lightweight Haydn - and the foyer was crowded.

FILM / Under a sun that never sets: Indochine (12); Wittgenstein (12); Distinguished Gentleman (15); Forever Young (PG)

SUFFERING has never seemed so soigne as in Indochine. Regis Wargnier's epic smothers the final throes of French rule in 1930s Indo-China in chic. The clamour of the insurgent nation is all but drowned by the sobs and sighs of the Mills & Boon story that is the film's focus - a remix of Madame Butterfly which makes Puccini seem a model of plausibility. The Cio-Cio-San figure is an orphaned Vietnamese princess, Camille (Linh Dan Pham), who falls in love with Jean-Baptiste (Vincent Perez), a French naval officer and former flame of Camille's adoptive French mother, Eliane (Catherine Deneuve). Eliane has the officer dispatched to a northern outpost, Devil's Island. The infatuated girl follows him, taking us on an exquisite travelogue. It might have been called Indo-Sheen.
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